Filming an Interview with a Smartphone
Ideally you will have a smartphone capable of either full HD or ideally 4k quality movies (iPhone 6 and upwards).
Firstly, before any film shoot with your smartphone you should:
Clear other stuff
onto a PC
Your Phone will have plenty of charge for a 20 minute movie
Create space on your phone by slaving heavy data off to another device.
The last thing you
need is to get calls and notifications during filming
Set Phone to
High Res Movie
Place the Phone
Quality is everything. Set you phone to record
HD or 4K
Your film will be used for TV/Movie broadcast so it
must be horizontal
Important: How to interview
The viewer is expecting you to be an authority on a particular subject so that authority must come across. You're expected to have the answers in your head and there is one sure way to put a dent in authority...
Reading from a script or list
An interview is you looking at the interviewer and talking to them.
Please never read your answers from a script or list. If you do, your eyes will stray from the viewer and diminishes your authority... and you've lost the viewer. This is vitally important.
You will have told us the date and time that you're filming. We will Zoom call you to check your set up and ask the questions.
Placing your Laptop
When we call you, place your laptop (the Zoom interviewer) left or right of your camera, as advised in this guidance. If it's not at eye level, make sure you talk to eye level.
Make sure you are in frame and looking at the "Zoom" Interviewer about 1m to the side of the camera. Our interviewer will help you with this.
Ensure you have initiated recording on all relevant devices.
Once it's all recording, click your fingers just once. This will give all recordings a Sync Point.
Your interviewer will ask each question.
Where you look
You should be looking at your interviewer on the laptop zoom call (or wherever eye level is). Maintain that focal point and AT NO TIME LOOK AT THE CAMERA
When a questions is asked, wait 1-2 seconds in silence to avoid any ambient lingering of the question.
Give your answer.
Where will your interview take place?
When shooting an interview, you generally want a space where you and the person (or people) being interviewed feel comfortable and relaxed.
Being at a comfortable temperature obviously helps.
Knowing you are not going to be interrupted for the duration of the interview helps too. If you keep getting interrupted, your interviewee will be less likely to relax and therefore less likely to give the best interview.
Noise is the curse of all live filming situations.
The problem with loud noise is it’s almost impossible to fix. If the room is dark, you can use lights. But if there’s building work going on across the street, it can be a nightmare.
With an interview, more than other filming situations, audio is absolutely key. You are there to record someone talking, after all. So make sure the noise level in your interview space is acceptable.
Birds cheeping in the woods is fine. Planes landing, not so much.
Will there be enough light?
Assuming that you don’t have a huge lighting set up, windows are great for free lighting and generally create a more attractive look than artificial lighting.
When an interview takes more than a few minutes, be aware of the sun changing position outside the window, changing the direction of the light. If you later want to cut between different parts of the interview, the sudden change of light position can look ugly.
When light from a window is too harsh, hang thin white curtains or cloth to soften the light. This also helps with a changing sun position.
Tip: shooting your subject side on to the window often creates the most pleasing look.
Having them face the window can work too – their face will be all one shade which can make it easier to avoid blowing out part of their face.
However, if they have their back to the window, either their face will be too dark or the window behind them will just be a big white block.
If you’re filming with your smartphone, most likely you won’t have a big lighting rig. Therefore you need to make the most of the available light.
Play around and test out different positions with the interviewee to find the most attractive shot.
You can also use a small light and/or a photographer’s reflector to fill the subject’s face if it is too dark on one side.
Unless you are using a plain background – maybe a curtain or a wall – the background can serve as an interesting backdrop to the interview. Perhaps the background is somehow relevant to the subject or it just looks interesting.
Again, play around with the position of the interviewee in relation to what is behind them. You can also re-arrange things in the background aesthetically. Lighting, including light from a window, will change the nature of the background too (remember, be careful of that changing sun position).
Tip: be careful of awkwardly placed objects behind the subject. A large pot plant which appears to be growing out of the top of the interviewee’s head can ruin your interview. Also, be careful that the background doesn’t distract from the subject – maybe move the subject further away from objects in the background if there’s space available.